Philippines: Regional-crafted halal standards out in July

By Bong S. Sarmiento

COTABATO CITY — A halal certification system is being finalized and set to be launched next month in a bid to boost the country’s potential to penetrate the lucrative global halal market valued at an estimated $3 trillion, an official said.

Zenaida P. Laidan, Department of Science and Technology director for Central Mindanao, said the move was also meant to protect the Philippine halal industry and for the nation to catch up with other halal-producing countries.

“The system would ensure that halal products are really credible, by testing these in our laboratory that could detect even the minutest contaminants,” she told Sun.Star Davao last week.

Laidan said the halal certification system was in line with the efforts to make Central Mindanao region as the “halal hub of the country,” and will be launched in General Santos City late in July.

The region through the DOST has an existing halal laboratory in this city that seeks to serve the needs of small, medium and large enterprises, she said.

A bigger halal laboratory facility is being constructed in Koronadal City, the regional administrative seat, and shall be known as the Philippine National Halal Laboratory, the official said.

Halal refers to food or non-food products permissible under the Islamic faith, but which could also be consumed by non-Muslims.

The P24 million existing halal laboratory facility at the DOST compound here has a range of services that span the entire supply chain of halal food and selected non-food products, a project briefer said.

It employs advanced technology and state-of-the art equipment. It is the only existing halal laboratory in the country devoted to serving local and international clients, Laidan said.

The facility is capable of profiling fatty acids of animals and plants; DNA analysis of foods and other processed products; gelatin content analysis of milk and other dairy products; testing of genetically modified organism; alcohol content analysis of beverages and other related products; qualitative detection of haram in meat products; and detection of lard in bakery products and edible oils, among others.

Laidan said that among those who will benefit from the halal laboratory are several sectors, such as the food and beverage manufacturers, food service outlets, caterers, food distributors and suppliers, food importers and exporters, pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical device producers, among others.

The laboratory was established in line with the Philippine Science and Technology Program for the Development of the Halal Industry.

She noted that the DOST is the “competent government authority in the technical aspect of validating compliance of products and services to halal requirements.”

For the laboratory, Laidan said her agency has partnered with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), which will handle the religious aspect of validation.

Next month’s launching of DOST-12’s halal certification system would come as the country still lacks the national guidelines for halal.

“We are still finalizing the [national] halal guidelines,” said Moner M. Bajunaid, NCMF commissioner for halal development.

Bajunaid did not give a timeframe as to when the final draft can be completed.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 21, 2011.